Monday, December 7, 2009

Its the Final Countdown

I started this semester with a song and I'm not ending it with one. I have been in college for almost an entire semester?! Over the next 6 days I will take 4 tests and write two papers and then pack up my clothing, drive home, and be done 1/8 done with college.

I hope I do well. I know that's pretty obvious, no one really wants to do bad, but I do help I pull this week off. I think the first semester is more about learning about college then its learning the material. You spend the first two weeks of school more preoccupied wonder if you are friends with someone on facebook and where you recognize the girl that is line in front of you, then you spend doing work. The next month or so, you try until about Halloween. I think that's when we all hit this wall and think "well I've mastered college for sure! I know which classes I don't need to try in, and I know that if I bring up baseball I can distract my psyc teacher for a solid 10 minutes." About a week after this, your grades slip and you realize that you should probably start trying, but by this point is almost Thanksgiving. And we all know we plan on just getting work done over Thanksgiving and then... well... we don't.

I wish I could teach the entire high school population what I have learned over the past two years. Everyone of my friends is in college, and everyone is happy. We all have work to do and we all have fun when we are not doing the work (often when we should be). We all procrastinate, but at the end of the night, we get it done. I want to be the one to tell people to take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.

So now it is December 7th at 1:48 am. And I realize I really hope I have learned more then just how to deal with college. In 8 hours I will wake up and take the first final of my college career.... so now it starts.... its the final countdown.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Last Reflection

I can't believe I'm almost 1/8 done with college already. This first semester has been interesting, and I'd say overall a success. College has been different then I thought in a lot of ways. I was quite anxious about the academic side of college going in. In High School I had pretty bad procrastination issues and on occasion I would actually hand in assignments late or not at all. Because I generally test well, I sometimes didn't do work because I knew I could do well in the class anyway. I was really worried about how this would effect me in college. It turns out that college has been really good for me academically.

I've been a prolific reader since I was young, so I like that a lot of college work is reading assignments. I've also found that, while it made me anxious at first, having a few assignments that are worth a lot of points is better then a lot of assignments worth less because I know I have to get them done and hand them in on time- I can't just count on doing well on other assignments or tests so I can get a good grade anyway. Living with other people has also helped me develop a better work ethic. Just like in high school my closest friends seem to be people with strong work ethics, but it's different actually living with them and seeing them studying and planning their schedules. So far (in all of my classes except math which is unfortunately kind of a joke...half the class doesn't even show up) I have handed in all my assignments on time and studied for all my tests, and as a result I've gotten As on about three-quarters of my tests and assignments. I'm very proud of what I've been able to accomplish academically.

Socially college has definitely been different then I expected. I came in with this idea that college would be non-stop party drinking time, which made me a bit nervous. I decided that maybe I would occasionally do some partying on weekends but not constantly like I thought most people did. While some of my friends on south side would disagree, I've actually found that there's a lot less of that sort of thing then I expected, and occasionally doing some partying on weekends is actually what a lot of people seem to do...this semester I haven't even done really done that, instead watching movies with people, just talking, or more recently going to anime club. On the other hand, I also came with the idea that it would be really easy to make friends in college and that I would get kind of blank slate with people who hadn't known me since sixth grade or so. I found it more difficult to find friends then I expected, which made me upset around the middle of the semester but I think things are looking up somewhat in that regard and I may just have to accept that I'm never going to be the hyper-social person surrounded by a crowd of friends, because that's just not who I am.

The thing is, reaching that conclusion only makes me more confused about my choice of major and especially career. I was hoping that I could become a more extroverted person and therefore political science would be a more logical choice for me. Now that I'm starting to accept that (while I might be able to learn to be more comfortable in social situations) I'm naturally an introvert and that's probably not changing I'm really not sure what my career should be. I'm not good at math and science, which tend to lead into more typical introvert careers. I think I'm interested in academia but I know that is a very difficult field. I also think I want to work for a non-profit organization but that just doesn't seem like a permanent career to me. Basically I'm leaving the first semester of college just as confused about what I want to do as when I came in. I can only take comfort in the fact that hopefully my undergrad choice of major doesn't matter that much.

Finally, I think I'm glad I participated in the University College program. Having a class with people who lived with me provided a really sense of stability in a sometimes confusing time in my life. That said, in retrospect a different UC might have been more appropriate for me personally. I realize now that since I like structure a class such as Individual Freedom vs. Authority (which I am taking as a regular class next semester) with a more specific topic might have been more fitting.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bonus Blog

Yeah, I have the right amount of blogs, but just in case, here is my bonus. National Museum of the American Indian places values on remembrance throughout the entire building. First, the huge lobby, if you look up, it looks like the top of a tee-pee. It was very well done. The architecture, including the wavy outside, existed to show how long the Native American population was there, and it was made in a southern style. The inside was different in that it many of the exhibits including ones about how the Native American’s live now, and how they have to try to preserve their culture while living in this world. For instance, there was an exhibit of a Native American girl’s bedroom with Coke-cola on the shelving and Native American leather clothes on the bed for the girl to wear. The Native Americans must prove they have Native American blood. And the museum tried to bring up their rights and how we have infringed upon them. In the end, it is all about remembrance, from the arrowheads and weapons on display to the giant snowmobile used for fishing. We must remember two things. One we must remember that they exist, and they still are all around us. Second we must remember their past, how they treated this land before us, and what it was like for them. We must preserve their past for their future, and also for our own, because we are now a part of their culture, and they are now a part of ours.

Final Reflection

Its over? Is it really? I mean, I still remember walking into the dorm room for the first time, and I remember meeting Joe, and Ben, and realizing that Joe doesn’t harsh your mellow and that Ben can not stand the Yankees. I remember waking up during discover D.C. to find out that despite our fears, there was no line for showers (great moment). I remember traveling to get Ice Cream, and hearing Georgina and discovering she was British! I remember meeting Julie, Allison and Jena, and finding out that Allison can draw great Pokemon, that if you talk to Jena, she can make you laugh with a great sarcastic statement, and that Julie loves coffee more than anything. What about Sofie, who back home had the nickname Sof Sof, which was quickly adapted to Sofalof. Or Allison P., who has a great voice on the radio, and can discuss all genres of music. What about Annie, who teamed up with Joe to teach me the subtle differences between the Southerners and the “Yanks”. Or Linda, who always had some democratic view to argue about with me. Let’s keep moving. Keara is still trying to convince me that she lives in the suburbs of New York, but let’s face it, its upstate. Anna can always give some good advice when needed, and Molly always can make you laugh when your down. Miranda is a great group leader, and is probably the only one truly organized here. Alex is Polish, and despite what I thought, I learned that the Polish language is nothing like Russian. Corrine and Aline are both “loungemates” which means they can always be found in the lounge, and currently, I am at “war” with them. Yet, Aline can take care of a gold fish the way nobody else can, and despite several arguments, I can not convince Corrine that it is Soccer, not Football. Katie is always having computer problems, but I learned that mostly, they are not her fault. Brad introduced me to “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, which may just be the reason I am getting through finals. Andrew has at least 4 nicknames derived from his last name, and is the only one who knows how my last name can be made into a nickname. Justin has a love for all things Secret Service, and as I write this, I am tempted to my secret service headset in my ear just for fun. Finally, Ana taught me that everybody has different ideas, and it is always smart to listen to all of them.
I know I have to reflect on the class, but I think just that was half of what the U.C. was about. I learned about different people, and became friends with everybody in it, learning about all of them, and through them, discovering yourself a little more. Besides that, making great friends so fast was amazing, and we all helped each other where we could. It helped with the transition to college to meet these people right away, and stick with them through our first and second terms. And hopefully longer. As for the class itself, we saw a lot of D.C. we would have never seen, and explored many areas of the human psych. I still don’t know what I exactly want to be with my life. Not yet. But I think the point of this course was to show that the human brain is always changing. It might be best to explore what I want to be by trying different things. That is the only way to truly know what I want to become. I did learn that I enjoy psychology and I learned that despite what I was at my old high school, I changed a lot, and for the better. Maybe, despite how much becoming a freshman hurt the ego, it was helpful to break away from the old routine, and join something new, and something challenging. Plus, being off Staten Island, besides separating me from people like those on the Jersey Shore, showed me a whole new world of ideas and diversity. Through hearing these ideas and thoughts in class, and into delving into discussions that gave everybody a different point of view, I wonder if maybe I changed more than I know, and if maybe, I will find my way to what I want to be, by just exploring myself. I may be com a lawyer, maybe not, but I will keep looking.
I think the best way to look at this is through this quote by J.R.R. Tolken. “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”

Last Reflection

It is the end of an era. Ok maybe it's not; but, it is a momentous occasion. As this semester comes to an end and as the snow falls, it is easy to reflect on the past almost four months here and my University College experience. I still remember the first time I met all of my fellow explorers, standing awkwardly in a circle out on the quad playing the name game. I remember my first impressions of people as we went around the circle reciting peoples names: Jubilant Julie, Glorious Gunperi, American Alli, and Just Justin are only four of the names that I still remember from that day. I remember how it felt to be standing there, looking around wondering who I would end up becoming close with and how I would be sharing my first semester of college with them. I also still remember my Discover DC experience and how mesmerized I was to be submerged so early in the culture of DC. I was so excited that this dynamic city was the place I would be living.

Looking back on my times during Explorations, I have no regrets and am very glad I decided to choose to be in a University College program. While I learned a lot about community and the significance of identity and critical thinking during the class, I feel like I learned so much more by being in this type of learning community. I feel like I learned more about my own identity outside of the class, merely through interactions with my floor mates, than I did through the MBTI for example. The class was helpful, but I am very grateful that living with your classmates was a part of this experience.

Obviously I had never lived with my fellow classmates and I thought the transformation from classmates to friends was interesting. When I try to explain UCs and Explorations in particular to others, they assume that all we do is study together and work on homework since we're classmates. While sometimes that does happen, it has become so much more than that. I have met so many good people who I might never have if I wasn't in Explorations. All in all, I am glad I participated in this experience and would recommend it to others. Being able to know the names of twenty three people the day you step on campus in August was very comforting. The experiences I had in every aspect of Explorations I will take with me for a long time and glad that they will forever be a part of my college experience.

Friday, December 4, 2009


I would like to be part of the community of New York Yankee fans. Well, I am, but I will tell you why it is a good thing. The NY Yankees and their fans are very loyal. They follow the team and the played around. When you are at a ball park, you can look around, and see everybody with you cheering together for the same team. As if you don't think everybody is united, just wait until you see a wave in the stands. That takes unity for the fact it is both unplanned and uncoordinated. Everybody just has to work together to get the wave complete. I like that I can go up to somebody, ask, “Yankees?” and if they say yes talk to them for 5 minutes about the team. The World Series brought fans together even more, as they were followed and rooted for. One time at a sports event I mad friends with somebody I didn't know just because we were rooting for the same team together. It is a common uniting factor. Besides that, together, you form an allegiance from the attack fronts of the Mets, Phillies, and of course the Red Soxs. Those teams will attack you, so you depend on your allies to keep you from falling over. Not that it matters. 27 World Series is generally a good enough comeback for anything they throw your way. In the end, they are just jealous. (I would like to take this time to apologize to Ben and Molly for anything they find offensive about the Boston Red Soxs in this blog)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Where Does ME want to BE?

(My title rhymes, I am aware it is not correct English)

If I had to pick a community, most people who know me would probably shout out that I want to be in the Secret Service Community. However, while I do want to be in this community, I think there is another community that I would rather be in.

I would like to be in the community of teachers. Specifically, I want to be a high school Social Studies or Humanities teacher. I realize this is being graded by a teacher so it might seem like a "suck-up attempt." But in reality I have been contemplating the idea of being a teacher for quite some time. I think out of all the professionals I have dealt with, I have always had the most respect for teachers. I have met police men and while they put their lives on the line (some more then others), I do not have as much respect for them as others do. I was a firefighter, and have much less respect for them after being one.

But high school teachers have a hard job and get to inspire others. They get kids who are still kids and are with them for the next for years, when many are considered adults. Its hard to teach kids who don't want to learn, and I believe just as hard to teach when the kids think they know everything.

Part of this decision might also be based on my high school teachers. I had great teachers and had so much respect for them. (Well... most of them...)

I know I am going to windup at the Secret Service, but after my 20 years, I might windup being a AP Government teacher... or at least its a thought.